She was four-years-old when I first met her, the very first family member from my husband's side of the family since our big decision. Until then I was Sheetal, my parents' daughter, a grand-daughter to my grandparents. Or "Tai," an elder sister to my sister and assorted cousins. But, all of a sudden I was someone more. I was going to be a wife. A daughter-in-law. And "Kaki," her uncle's wife.
Frankly, it was scary to be "Kaki." Except, as the evening wore on I found myself less and less nervous. And more and more in love with my niece-to-be, so much so that I found myself wishing for a daughter just like her.
That's Shambhavi, she could make even an ice-cube feel warm all over. After all she is usually the one who breaks the ice first. Being quite the little Magpie helps a great deal too. Whether it is making conversation with an older grandmother, Kaki or someone her own age, Shamski does it with utmost alacrity and ease. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that she started talking when she was barely eight months old. I think though, largely, it's simply because of the way she is. Really, she is such an easy-going kid, anyone would be hardpressed to be anything but charmed.
Over the last few weeks, Shamski, as AM likes to call her, has been excitedly asking us our plans for her birthday on the 12th. She'd told us a couple of weeks ago that she would like it if we made her a cake and something Italian. Pizza to be exact. Both AM and I were ecstatic that Shyamu actually asked for something. She is one of those kids who would be happy even if someone were to gift her a cordless drill.
Given her affinity to pizza, it was somewhat a no-brainer -- bake a pizza-cake! We just used a simple cake recipe (you could use the boxed variety too) and focused much of our attention on decorating it with fondant toppings.
So, Shyamu, "Buon Compleanno!"
♣ The Magpie's Cake -- It's Different!
1 recipe for an eight-inch yellow cake
1/4 of a recipe of this cream cheese frosting
Colored red sugar
Ready-to-use white fondant
Icing colors: violet, brown, green, yellow and red
Preferably bake the cake the day before you intend to decorate, keep covered in the refrigerator.
For the olives: Mix in violet, brown and a tiny bit of red into a portion of the white fondant. What you are looking for is a dark gun-metal color. Then mold the fondant into a thick bolster shape, cut 1/4 inch pieces, and mold it very slightly to give a gentle circular shape. Try and keep the flat edges intact. We used the end of an oil funnel to give the olives their final doughnut shape.
For the green peppers: Mix in green, some yellow and a very tiny bit of red and violet. We found that the peppers needed a lot of green color to come close to the natural emerald hue of peppers. Sprinkle some confectioner's sugar on your work surface as well as the rolling pin and roll the fondant into a thick circle. Cut thin strips with a butter-knife or a fruit-knife, gently mold the tips and give them an inward curl so that they resemble the alphabet "c." Then, with your fingertips give it just a little bit of a kink in the center -- the end result looks sort of like pillowy lips.
For the melted cheese: Roll a small ball of fondant into a circle, and cut out abstract shapes to resemble pieces of Mozzarella cheese.
Whip the cream cheese to make frosting. Then, remove cake from refrigerator, leaving the edge of the cake all around to make it seem like the pizza crust, dig out a little bit of the cake to make place for the frosting. Drop in a few dollops of the frosting in the middle and spread it out evenly inside the "crust." Now, sprinkle in the colored red sugar all over the frosting. Place two or three olives, a few peppers. Then, drape the cheese pieces to seem like it has melted and melded with the vegetables. Finish off with the final olives and green peppers. Heave a sigh of contentment.
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